What Are Your Holiday Challenges as a Working Mom?

What are your holiday challenges as a working mom, ladies? Do you find that because you have kids in the picture you feel more of a need to do seasonal decor (above and beyond a Christmas tree)? Do you find that your diet is under attack because every kid-related event you go to has some sort of sweet treat? (Or a neighbor brings holiday cookies, or you just end up going to more holiday parties as a working mom than you did before having kids?) If you have a kiddo who’s active with clubs and activities — or otherwise knows a lot of adults, either as caregivers, instructors, therapists (such as speech/OT/PT), or more — then is there more of a strain on you to come up with “thoughtful” holiday cards and teacher gifts? (Is anyone else fielding a million questions from well-intentioned relatives regarding presents to get your kid that largely amount to research projects for you?) Are you also under stress at work with year-end goals and projects (or do you have a relatively quiet office)?holiday challenges for working mothers Do you have any year-end projects you foist on yourself or your family, such as organizing family photos from the past year enough for a family holiday card, a 2018 calendar, or more?

We played our game of “do, delegate, or nope” last year and rounded up some holiday delegating ideas — has anyone put those into play this year?

For my $.02: I’m still kind of “nope” on the Elf on the Shelf — he’s been hiding behind a chair for about a week now and my kids haven’t found him, so clearly I’m #winning. I definitely feel more of an obligation to put up seasonal decor than I ever did before I had kids — I didn’t even bother with my own Christmas tree until J was 2! I do try to force myself to go through all of the family photos for the past year to pull a holiday card (um, which I still haven’t even ordered yet) as well as several calendars for the next year (wall- and desk-sized). (I’m also going to try to force myself to do a photo album for 2017 while it’s fresh in my head… since I haven’t done one yet for 2015 or 2016. Well, we’ll see.) I’m also going to try to start the review of our finances for the past year for our itemized deductions — but maybe that can wait until January. I’ve been pondering trying to do a kid-related craft for the various adults the kids deal with (now that my second son, H, is in preschool it seems like there are a zillion people), but I may just do a small gift card and a family holiday card and call it a day.

Do tell, ladies: what are your biggest holiday challenges as a working mom? 

Picture credit: Pixabay.

There are lots of holiday challenges for working moms, from seasonal decor to family holiday cards to presents. We sound off on some of our least favorites!

Comments

  1. Holiday cards. What an insane racket that’s become. I love getting/sending mail so I’ve always done cards and enjoy actually writing them, but now that I have a kid, there is so much pressure to do a picture card (I literally had people tell me they expect picture cards “next time” when my daughter was just born and I sent out regular cute cards I picked up at B&N that year). This year I decided to do a nice card with professional pictures and I am SHOCKED by how expensive a process it is and how time consuming it’s been. I’m sort of amazed to have been on the receiving end of all these cards now that I see how much time/money is involved. Definitely not doing the same thing next year.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I’m not doing them this year, but I usually pick an option on tinyprints (or wherever) that allows for A BUNCH of pictures, so I can get away with using cell phone pictures from throughout the year (since there’s a lot on the card they’re small and don’t look grainy) instead of professional photos, which cuts down the cost/time commitment significantly

    • I’m going with JCPenney for the photos, they send you coupons every other day if you sign up with them (I used them once for headshots). So the photos themselves will be <$100. We're lucky that we have one 10 minutes away with Saturday appointments.

      For the cards, I could do it much cheaper with VistaPrint, but I'm going with Minted because I already have all the names and addresses in there from birth announcements. That'll be like $70, again using coupons.

      • Pretty Primadonna says:

        I got a Groupon for JCPenney potraits. 29.99 for three digital images and one free print. We took portraits on Sunday and got the digital images via email the following day, ordered cards from minted, and they arrive tonight. Hopefully, folks will have their cards in the mail Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      It seems like Snapfish like always has 60-70% off cards. They aren’t heirloom quality, but I assume people want to see my Kiddo’s silly face, just like I want to see theirs, and then that they’ll trash the cards, so eh, good enough. That being said, we’ve done photocards like as long as I’ve been dating my now-husband. It started out silly, like everyone was sending these nice, posed family cards, and we’d send one of us beaming, holding a Not Amused cat. And then two cats… and then two cats and a kid… ha.

    • EB0220 says:

      I really like getting professional photos taken once a year anyway. It’s $100-$150 which includes 5-10 digital photos, so I file those away for the Christmas card. This year I did the costco cards which are simple, and also $15/50 cards. It was super easy. My letter has dwindled every year since having kids, though. Last year I did bullet points of the highlights. This year, nothing at all.

      • That’s not so unreasonable. But the prices for professional photos I’m seeing are way above that and even Shutterfly photo cards on promo are in the $50-100 range. I don’t have any desire to jump into the whole “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality of it all, I was just really surprised at how much people are spending on these things. My pre-kid default was to buy a box or two of nice cards at Marshall’s for maybe $12 total and however many stamps to go with them.

        • Rainbow Hair says:

          If you want a hack — and you don’t have to! — following some family photographers on instagram/whatever will clue you into when they’re doing Mini Sessions. A photographer I really really like does them for like $75-ish, outside, with optional cute props. You don’t get a ton of photos, but you only need one or two. Some only slightly less talented photographers do it for like $50 or less. My understanding is that the photographers can get a bunch of quick back-to-back bookings, making it worth their while. I’m kicking myself for not doing them with the aforementioned “really really like” one this year. Maybe I’ll start socking away small bills in a drawer for next year, or if she does a special in the spring.

          • Thanks. Actually the photographer who did our pics this year said she will do this sometimes if you can just a group together, say, up to 5 others. But the pictures themselves are still very expensive (I’m sure this varies by photographer) and then you think I’ll just pick one and that’s it but it’s so hard when you’re actually there, looking at them and thinking how can I ‘delete’ these memories? I think I’m just going to try taking my own pictures and since I don’t really want to be in them anyway, it should be easier – kids, dog, done.

    • Edna Mazur says:

      I hear you! I used to buy all my cards for the next year after Christmas, so like 70% + off. I think the stamps were more expensive than the cards usually ended up being. I spent an evening addressing writing a sentence or two in each, and boom, done.

      In my circles, everyone does a lengthy letter too. I love getting and reading them, including the 6 page missive I get from my 90 year old auntie complaining about the world these days, but can’t bring myself to come up with more than a few sentences to be printed on the back of the photo card we now do since we have kids.

    • Two Cents says:

      I love doing cards (we do new year’s cards) because it’s the only time I can get a good photo of the whole family (we hire the same photographer every year, who is so pricey but fantastic). And we send out 150 + cards, so yeah….not cheap. And for some reason I feel inclined to write a tailored 2-3 sentences on each one. Definitely time consuming, but I like doing it.

      We do the newsletter too (going on 10 years at this point) but we email that in January. And I actually like emailing it because it’s much more likely to trigger an immediate response from the recipient so it’s a nice way to keep in touch.

    • KateMiddletown says:

      Late to the party on this one, but Amazon has a great deal for cards – Amazon photos.

  2. rakma says:

    I dislike decorating. DH usually takes care of the tree/train, which has been plenty for me. This morning, while driving to school, DD1 was sighing about how so many people in the neighborhood were getting ready for Christmas with those ‘beautiful lights’ and I could almost see myself caving and decorating outside. Then I remembered I was the adult and she wasn’t getting on a ladder to string those lights, so I just changed the topic.

    We’ll do a big cookie baking day, and we made salt dough ornaments, so I’m not completely grinchy about the whole thing. I’d rather focus on the activities that double as bonding time, and focus less on the things that are a ton of work for less payoff.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      oooo outdoor decorations is a big one I didn’t even think of. I get a wreath from Trader Joe’s for the door, and I have plug-in fake topiaries that go on each side of the door that are pre-lit, and that’s the extent of our outdoor decorations. I hardcore NOPE trying to get wreaths on windows, lights on the house, etc.

    • I don’t even do the lights on the house (DH does) and I think it’s too much work. Especially because our house has a fence so the house itself (and lights) are essentially obscured from the street. But he did a bunch of work one year installing these clippy things for the lights, so I think he feels obligated to do it.

      He’s dragging his feet on the tree though because half the time it dries out before xmas because we forget to water it/ the cat drinks all the water. He makes a valid point, but I love the tree.

  3. Anonanonanon says:

    I would do decor/a big holiday party regardless, because I love the holidays. The challenges I find are:

    -Leave. I don’t want to use my leave around the holidays because, frankly, the office is pretty quiet then and it feels like a waste when I could save my leave for a summertime vacation and actually enjoy it. However, I feel guilty putting my son in winter break camps instead of having him home with me, even though I realistically know that if I took leave and kept him home he’d end up watching me clean the house or something.

    -Teacher gifts/stuff for the class party etc. Having to go get whatever teacher gift fits in with the theme the “room mom” selecting, deciding on something to contribute to the class party that doesn’t make us working moms look bad/lazy but that my kid can cart on the van from morning care to school and into school without destroying, figuring out what to get the before/after care staff, etc. This year the daycare he does after-school care in is doing a gift exchange, so now I have to go get a gift for that this weekend as well.

    -Stockings. The stocking was always one of my favorite parts of Christmas as a kid, my mother did such a great job finding small, thoughtful, cool things to put in them every year. I HATE doing it with my kid but keep clinging to the tradition. Gifts I can order on amazon, but little stocking items generally involve browsing the stores etc. and I hate errands that can’t be completed online.

    -I’m “NOPE”ing cards this year. Normally I actually really enjoy doing them, but I’m pregnant and I’m sure we’ll send out a birth announcement or something in a few months so that can count. and I’m just tired.

    -Kiddo is “in the know” now, so no Santa visit, which is a relief because I always dreaded that.

    -My husband takes care of his parents and the nephews on his side of the family gift-wise unless I come up with a great idea for his parents through chance, so that helps.

    • rakma says:

      My mom still does awesome stockings, and now does that for the Grandkids as well, so my stockings always pale in comparison. I’m not just completing with my memory, I’m competing with my mom’s current inability to hold back.

      Two things that might help: Target has that Bullseye playground section online: https://www.target.com/c/bullseye-s-playground/-/N-tr36l and Minimus.biz sells travel sized everything–toiletries, food, travel games. Might be enough interesting stuff to get the stockings at least partially full.

    • avocado says:

      I am pretty sure my kid has been in the know re. Santa since she was in kindergarten, but she is smart enough to keep playing along. As far as I know, she has no plans to drop it because it keeps paying off for her. Santa has magic powers to find things Mommy can’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      For stockings, one fun tradition we had as kids was to have lots of satsumas and apples in the stocking. So smart of our parents to include them, since we figured Santa must really think oranges are a treat…and we ate them up with thanks! Even if it doesn’t fill up the stocking, it helps to bulk it out.

  4. avocado says:

    I vote “nope” on the kid-related craft. As a veteran mom and a former tutor, I don’t think teachers or other adults who work with kids generally appreciate anything other than a gift card, cash, a heartfelt note from the parent or the kid, or a hand-drawn card. The only gifts I remember from my tutoring days are the notes that the kids wrote themselves with specific details about how I’d helped them or what they liked about our lessons, which I really treasured.

    When my kid was little I used to scan one of her drawings and print it on cards for caregivers, then write my own note inside. Now she writes her own cards. She bakes cookies for a small handful of people who we are pretty sure actually enjoy receiving them (piano teacher and coaches). Everybody gets gift cards.

    I am in the “nope” camp regarding the Elf. My daughter wanted one so badly that my husband gave in, promising me that I would never have to move it. That creepy thing has only moved once so far this year, and guess who remembered to move it? I asked my daughter when she thought the Elf would stop coming, and she replied that he would keep coming until she was in college. Sigh.

  5. Momata says:

    I hate that the extra stuff (wrapping gifts, addressing cards, etc) basically consumes the one hour of “me time” i have between when the kids go down and the kitchen is cleaned up, and when I fall asleep on the couch. It makes me feel like I have literally zero minutes to myself during the day. And that is not a good feeling.

    NOPE on the outdoor decorating. NOPE on going to see Santa at the mall. NOPE on adult gifts within extended family (fortunately all the other women in my extended family gave this a big fat NOPE as well).

    • rakma says:

      I made a plan with a friend to meet up and do wrapping together. I’m turning it into a social event so I don’t feel like it’s just more drudgery.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        I love this idea so much.

      • I’m in NYC so it wouldn’t work for me – everyone walks /takes public transport and carrying a bunch of gifts all at once is misery – but I make it into a party just for me. I’ll put on some holiday movie I like (Elf, Scrooged, etc.), drink wine and wrap gifts. I find as long as I am doing it at night and not right before a big gift exchange, it’s nice and low key and I can actually have a good time.

        • Rainbow Hair says:

          This is what I’ll have to do, since I don’t have local besties right now (sob!) … I’m imagining spreading out in the guest room with a podcast, though… and wine. And hopefully no ‘helpful’ cats.

  6. SIL and I tag-team the calendar with kid pictures for our mutual in-laws. That leaves us to then only do one solo for our respective parents.

    I also bought frames for 8x10s and printed kid photos earlier in the year, before things got nutty.

    Haven’t decided if I’m doing a photo book or not. I probably should.

  7. Mrs. Jones says:

    I refuse to send cards (Face book keeps everyone up to date) or play Elf on the Shelf. I pretty much enjoy everything else, like decorating and buying gifts.

  8. mascot says:

    All the nopes- the creepy elf, christmas cards, adult sibling gifts

    Things I like- making a fancy meal and/or baking, decorating the house. It’s annoying while doing it but the finished project is lovely – dickens village, outdoor decor, 6 trees. Now that my kid can help with a few of the trees, it goes a lot faster.

  9. The hardest part is keeping track of everything and feeling short on time to do the things I actually care about, like baking. Work is actually slow right now, so being here feels even more torturous.

    Finding teacher gifts stresses me out every year. I’m taking the path of least resistance and getting everyone gift cards to the coffee shop in our neighborhood, along with a nice card. I’ve seen all of them carrying cups from that particular shop, so I figure it’ll be OK, even if it’s not remotely creative.

    I love decorating, but we scaled back this year and just put up the stuff we really love.

    I also get a little grouchy about doing tons of research on gift ideas for the in-laws. Like Kat says, they mean well, but it’s a lot of work. I get stressed about gift giving in general — I tend to overthink everything, second-guess stuff I’ve already bought, etc. I try really hard but I don’t enjoy the process much and feel super guilty about that.

    I go through cycles on holiday cards. I’m doing one this year, but no professional photo. I’m a decent enough photographer, so I took some kid photos in the backyard on a nice fall day, and that’s what we used. Last night I lit a Christmas candle and made hot cocoa to drink while I addressed cards. It was nice and made it feel like less of a chore.

    I never start wrapping gifts as early as I want to. One of my friends wants to drink wine and wrap gifts together, which sounds like the best idea ever.

    • OH! I stopped writing Christmas letters several years ago and probably never will again. I just don’t have that much to say about our family. Whenever I try to write one, I find myself getting way too caught up in whether the tone is right — too humble-braggy? Is this sentence funny, or just dumb? How real is too real? I knew I was done when I went to the trouble of writing one two years ago, took it to Kinko’s to get copies, and just never sent it. (Sent the cards, not the letter.)

      Clearly, the holidays set off my issues with perfectionism. ;)

  10. EB0220 says:

    I feel pretty happy about our Christmas approach. We did our decorating in manageable chunks. Put the stockings up one evening after Thanksgiving. A few strings of outdoor lights, also right after Thanksgiving. Got the Christmas tree last weekend and the kids had fun decorating it. We skipped the outside lights last year and I missed them.

    As mentioned above, I did the Costco cards this year. No letter. I couldn’t think of anything to say besides “Kid 1 started kindergarten and husband spent the year pondering a career change.” I always bring them to the office and address them while on a boring conference call.

    I DO get super grumpy about present management, but my husband is actually a pretty good gift buyer so we’ve split the load well this year. Hooray. I tend to wrap presents while watching TV or a move so it’s not taking “me” time. I hit on the idea of Amazon gift cards for teachers with the kid’s picture on it a few years ago and that’s been my go-to ever since. Everyone likes Amazon, right, and they’ll remember who it’s from when they use it. Plus you can buy and print it out in < 5 min when you remember it's the last day before break and you need to give something to your kids' teachers at pickup. Ahem.

    I don't bake so that's out. Usually the kids make gingerbread cookies at Grandma's house, which they all enjoy. I enjoy not having flour all over my kitchen. No Elf on the Shelf. Creepy + time consuming.

    We don't have too many social events. We do always go to Disney on Ice in December and we added another holiday event at a local museum this year.

    I feel like we've reached the level of appropriately festive but not overwhelming. It REALLY helps that my work tends to be quiet this time of year and my company is closed from Christmas to New Year's.

  11. Anonanonanon says:

    Re: Teacher gifts. One year the class mom asked everybody to contribute as many $10 gift cards as they felt comfortable, and she made a gift card wreath out of them for the teacher on behalf of the entire class. It was the best thing ever, because then everyone gave the same thing and I could just pick up a starbucks card when I was at the grocery store.

  12. Knope says:

    We are non-observant Jews, so we have pretty much decided to say “nope” to just about everything except gift exchange. No decorations, no holiday cards. We don’t throw a holiday party but we do attend a few potlucks, so I’ll make food for that, but that’s it. I do actually like the holiday season, but it’s not important enough to us to spend our limited emotional energy on.

  13. Now that we have a kid, I’m strangely into all the activities. We watched White Christmas on my birthday last weekend, got a tree, will decorate it tonight (maybe), DH is building a fire pit to have a yule log, we’re listening to Christmas albums every night while we make dinner, my sweet wonderful photographer friend did a family photo shoot, and I ordered Christmas cards Monday using a paltry 30% off coupon (pro-tip: web s!tes like Sh3tterfly have amazing deals around Halloween and then again around Black Friday if you’re majorly organized and/or don’t do photo cards!)

    Hard nopes: Elf on the Shelf (so creepy!), and buying presents for every adult in my life. Day care workers are getting cash. My family gets nothing! :P Grandmas get photo books because they were cheap, easy and they love photos. My poor brother informed me that his wife already bought us gifts, which means that now I have to buy them gifts, even though we are adults and buy ourselves everything that we want (we also make more money than they do). Any advice on how to get your SIL to stop buying gifts? I feel like being direct would hurt her feelings but maybe it’s worth it. Is that super scroogey? Also, what do get a young (21 y/o) mom who is a country girl? Jewelry? Put together a spa basket? She doesn’t drink (bless her) so my normal wine related gifts are a bust this time around.

    • it is not scroogey. i’ve recently had conversations with a few friends on how to get adults to stop buying gifts for each other. now is obviously not the time to bring it up, but you could have a conversation after the holidays or or next year like in October saying let’s not do gifts for adults this year. One thing to consider is that gift giving might be your SILs love language, so instead of stopping all together you could do a secret santa if you have a larger family, or for next year set a strict price limit ($10-15) so that she still gets to buy you something, but you don’t have to worry about who is spending more. Another idea, suggest that you each donate the $ that you would spend on gifts to a charity. Also – depending on your relationship with your SIL, you could discuss this with your brother in law instead. Or if you live locally and hang out from time to time, when the spouses are around bring it up in conversation (and get your DH to be in on it in advance)

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        Sibling Secret Santa has been a really great thing for my family. There were always weird years where some siblings bought something for all the other siblings (and their partners) and some siblings showed up empty handed. With the secret santa thing, and a $20 budget, I know exactly what I’m getting into.

    • We spoke with DH’s cousin and now have an agreement that instead of doing presents, we pick a day a week or two after Christmas and spend the day together doing something fun. Last year we grabbed lunch and took the kids to the aquarium. It has worked out really well.

      • And for his sisters, last year we all agreed to do donations to charities. They are into animals, so we donated to a local rescue zoo and they loved it. In my family, I only have one sister and she’s single (and makes much less) and also babysits and such throughout the year for us, so we enjoy spoiling her at Christmas, especially since she spends a lot of money on our kids.

  14. Margaret says:

    I love traditions, so I’m working hard on picking the traditions that matter the most to me and are easiest to execute without a lot of hassle. Like, it’s important to me to make my Christmas cookie dough from scratch, but I’m not going to go crazy with decorating them.

    And, yes, the cards are killing me. We used the Walgreens service last year and it was not too overpriced but the quality wasn’t great. My husband and I can’t ever agree on what picture to use. This year I need to “let go” a little bit in this process.

  15. Emily says:

    Hard Nopes: Elf on the Shelf, opt-in cookie swaps and any cookie swap requiring heavy allergy considerations (eg. “Make only gluten free cookies”). I do 2 cookies well. If they can’t come, we don’t participate.

    When my kids ask about the Elf, I tell them that we have an advent calendar with a bear that moves around it instead. Maybe Santa uses that to check on you. (They just move the bear each day to a new space, nothing crazy).

    I do cards. Usually Shutterfly but after 2 years of having *no* photos of me, we do a photo shoot in october. The photographer’s package included cards. They have been sitting waiting to be addressed since Halloween.

    We do a secret Santa with my mom’s side on Christmas Eve, because my grandma is 92 and she hosts and would be very sad if there were no gifts (my 3 kids are the only Littles in the entire extended family). I got my sister this year. DH got an older uncle; he is getting snacks and beer in a basket.

    I do gifts for my parents and sons bevause they come to my house for Christmas and my kids are the only Little’s.

    We make a few traditional foods from scratch which are a PItA but DH and I do a great job- if we didn’t do it, they’d be yucky. We don’t mind and have gotten the kids into it.

    Letters to Santa/ yes. Photos with Santa-no.

    Shortcuts: gingerbread houses with frosting and Graham crackers.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The family travel drives me nuts. The holidays are usually the only time of the year when I might get more than 2-3 days off. And then I have to spend them driving either to my parents or my in-laws (depending on the year), and since they live close to each other (we are the ones far away) it then becomes a fight as to whether the other can sneak in a visit with my DD. It’s just too much and was way easier pre-kids when we had no qualms on not attending

  17. “Do” — Christmas cards. Make food-related gifts for adult family and friends (this year, Pepper jelly with peppers from our garden, limoncello, and salts with herbs from our garden). Christmas tree and light decorating.

    “Delegate”—Hosting—we go over to other people’s houses for all events. Traveling—my in-laws live in our city, and my parents come visit, so we don’t go anywhere. Baking—my mom brings and makes my favorite Christmas treats when she visits.

    “Nope”—Elf on the Shelf (so far). Teacher gifts—our lovely daycare puts out envelopes for anonymous cash collections from the whole class. Visiting Santa and any of the dozens of paid Santa brunches, teas, train rides, etc. (To be fair, maybe when Kiddo is older).

  18. Frozen Peach says:

    I love sorting things into these buckets! What a great concept.

    Do– gingerbread house (use a kit, make the industrial strength royal icing so the darn thing actually holds together), advent calendar (I wrap our Christmas books and one appears every day), gifts for adults because DH’s siblings still exchange gifts and my parents have nobody who will get them anything other than each other and me. Visiting Santa– the town where we live has a great one, and they do really nice photos. Has become how I console myself for not having adorable professional photos taken in the fall for cards– we always get a nice family photo from Santa visit. I love the tree, my DH does lights on the house if he feels like it.

    Delegate- hosting and travel. I flat out refuse to travel for Xmas. It happens at our house. Santa comes to our house. I am SO glad I made this rule from day 1. People are always welcome to come to us! Makes it easy to say no, because the policy isn’t about any one family member or trip– it’s just what we do.

    Don’t– baking. We bought a roll of Pillsbury gingerbread dough, cut out some cookies, called it a day. Now I want to do it again because they were really good and became my de facto breakfast (not saying this is healthy, but I bet it’s about as bad as a starbucks pastry). Cards. I love receiving them, but the massive project of ordering, addressing, shipping? Nope nope nope. I always feel guilty about this, but when I think about doing it, I want to cry, so nope. That darn elf is not ever entering my home. Creepy AF.

  19. My biggest problem is the plethora of end of year school events that are on during the day. We had three occasions we were supposed to attend this week, all on seperate days, and we only have two kids! My husband and I usually divide and conquer, but it’s still a hassle to arrange time off work (even an hour) during the end of year rush. Luckily the kids are very understanding and save up their “mummy coming to daytime assembly / speech day / choir concert / Christmas picnic / carols / library opening / god knows what else” trips for the stuff that’s really important to them. I’m still super sad when I miss out though.

  20. Kelly says:

    I woke up on Christmas Eve morning in 2002 a realized we did not even have a tree up. Our daughter was 4 months old and I had started back to work FT maybe 4 weeks before 12/24. I promptly burst into tears. My husband dried my tears and hustled us all into the car to go get a tree which we decorated that day. On that day, my year long Christmas plan, that I call my “Joyless Year Long March Toward Christmas,” began. I follow it every year and every year I spend December smiling and going to Christmas parties. I am definitely a little more lax now that we are in the teen years with my schedule for everything, but all the things that are important to us get done. That being said, my nemesis is the Advent Calendar. I bought one that has a compartment for a small gift on each day. I intended to start a charming tradition that my daughter would remember forever. Didn’t happen. I have had all manner of other types of Advent Calendars and none of them have worked. The dog eats some of the pieces or they get lost. They are meant to sit on a mantel which we don’t have. They are filled with chocolate that has been waiting since the Coolidge Administration to be eaten. Just haven’t found one that works. Oh well! There is always next year.

    My do, don’t, delegate would be:

    DO: Cards. I hate paper, but I love Christmas cards. I use pics I have taken through out the year. We do not schedule a family photo shoot. I use coupon codes to save money, order them online, and have zero loyalty to any one company. I put the card together in November while I am watching TV, have my address list on a label template, and send them out the week after Thanksgiving.
    DON’T: Outdoor decorations. I love looking at other people’s, but don’t fuss about putting up anything but a fun sign we bought at a craft market. One of my mom’s friends was mortified that we did not put up any decorations so she brought us a wreath for years. We hung it on the front door and wrote a thank you note, but still made no effort to put up any lights or other outdoor decor.
    DELEGATE: Lots of things! Wrapping. When we had a PT nanny, I offered her extra hours to wrap our presents. Now I use a lot of gift bags. Baking. I bought baked goods for years and now I have a baking party where my daughter and her friends handle all of our baking needs. Gifts. My husband handles gifting for our daughter’s extracurricular activitiy leaders and coaches.

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